The king of the kings, once Muammar Gaddafi was

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Who was Muammar Gaddafi?

Muammar al-Gaddafi was born on7 June 1942. Heraised in a bedouin tent in the desert near Sirte (Sidra). According to many biographies, his family belongs to a small tribe of Arabs, the Qadhadhfa. They are mostly herders that live in the Hun Oasis. According to Gaddafi, his grandfather, Abdessalam Bouminyar, fought against the Italian occupation of Libya and died as the “first martyr in Khoms, in the first battle of 1911”.

Gaddafi attended a Muslim elementary school far from home in Sabha, during which time he was profoundly influenced by major events in the Arab world. He was passionate about the Palestinian cause and deeply disappointed by their defeat at the hands of Israeli forces in 1948. He admired Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and looked to him as a hero during his rise to power in 1952. In 1956 Gaddafi took part in anti-Israeli protests during the Suez Crisis. In Sabha he was briefly a member of the scouts. He finished his secondary school studies under a private tutor in Misrata, concentrating on the study of history.

Gaddafi entered the Libyan military academy at Benghazi in 1961, and graduated in 1966. Both towards the end of his course and after graduation, Gaddafi pursued further studies in Europe. False rumours have been propagated with regards to this part of his life, for example, that he attended the United Kingdom’s Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He did in fact receive four months further military training in the United Kingdom, and spent some time in London. After this, as a commissioned officer he joined the Signal Corps. Although often referred to as “Colonel Gaddafi”, he was in fact only a Lieutenant when he seized power in 1969. He was, nonetheless, a holder of the honorary rank of Major General, conferred upon him in 1976 by the Arab Socialist Union’s National Congress. Gaddafi accepted the honorary rank, but stated that he would continue to be known as “Colonel” and to wear the rank insignia of a Colonel when in uniform.

One of the world’s longest-serving national leaders, Gaddafi has no official government function and is known as the “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution.”

Gaddafi, 69, is the first leader to be killed in the Arab spring, the wave of popular uprisings that swept the Middle East demanding the end of autocratic rulers and greater democracy.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was born near Sirte, and when he became the ruler of all Libya, he transformed it from an insignificant fishing village into the country’s sprawling second city. On Thursday, after a brutal and ultimately hopeless last stand, it was the place where he died.

For the past three weeks, with Gaddafi’s whereabouts still unknown, government fighters had been puzzled by the bitter and determined resistance from loyalist fighters. Trapped in a tiny coastal strip just a few hundred metres wide, they had refused to give up, even when a victory by the forces of Libya’s National Transitional Council seemed inevitable.

Across Libya, as the news broke, there were celebrations. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” the Libyan prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, told a news conference.

In Tripoli there were volleys of celebratory gunfire as vast crowds waving the red, black and green national flag adopted by the NTC gathered in Martyr’s Square once the setting for mass rallies in praise of the “Brother Leader”.

He was one of the world’s most mercurial leaders. He seized power in 1969 and dominated Libya with a regime that often seemed run by his whims. But his acts brought international condemnation and isolation to his country.

When the end came for Gaddafi it was not as his son Saif al-Islam once promised, with the regime fighting to “its last bullet”. Instead, the man who once styled himself “the king of the kings” of Africa was cornered while attempting to escape with his entourage in a convoy of cars after a final 90-minute assault on the last few loyalist positions in Sirte’s District Two.

Sources: Guardian, Wikipedia, Newsbulletin

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